This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.
With the growing use of King Air twin-turboprops for surveillance, a new venture is offering to deliver outfitted platforms on short notice by having a pipeline of aircraft in modification.
Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Aerial Surveillance Systems Inc. (ASSI) has selected modification specialist Stevens Aviation to install an adapted cargo pod, sensor, operator's console, avionics and other mission hardware on low-time used King Air 350s.
The modified King Air is being marketed to government and military customers as the SkyEye 350. The first aircraft is in modification and is scheduled to fly at the beginning of September, says Stevens Aviation's Frank Golden.
ASSI has selected FLIR Systems as electro-optical/infrared sensor provider, and will equip the aircraft to take either the Star Safire HD or Brite Star II system, he says. Rosen Aviation is supplying console displays and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems the mission control software.
Golden says ASSI's business plan is to have two or three aircraft in modification at all times, so they can be customized and delivered within three to four months, compared with 18 months for a traditional acquisition.
The smaller King Air B200 will be offered as a lower-cost platform, he says, while the companies will also offer to install the basic mission package on other aircraft types, including the Cessna 208 Caravan.
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